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South Piedmont Earns Prestigious Recognition as Bellwether Finalist

Main BuildingSouth Piedmont Community College has been selected as a Top 10 Finalist in two of three categories for a Bellwether Award. This distinction will promote South Piedmont as a national leader in Workforce Development and Planning, Governance, and Finance and will allow the college to join the Bellwether College Consortium which includes colleges from across the nation who have successfully addressed critical issues facing community colleges through applicable research and the promotion and replication of best practices.

South Piedmont is being recognized in the Workforce Development category for the Road2Wingate partnership with Wingate University where graduates are guaranteed admission to Wingate with 100% of credits transferring seamlessly. This partnership helps bolster the skilled labor shortage for Union and Anson Counties. The unique aspect of the partnership allows SPCC students to utilize Wingate’s facilities including the library and wellness center. Students also have access to counseling services from their advising and financial aid staff. Also in an effort to keep the cost of education low, the Gateway to Wingate scholarship allows SPCC graduates to attend Wingate for $2,500 a year or less.

“There have always been some common agreements between community colleges and universities, but we wanted to look at things more creatively and strategically to better serve the students in our communities,” said Dr. Maria Pharr, president at South Piedmont.

The second recognition for the Planning, Governance, and Finance category highlights the success with a new mobile app, SPCC Navigate. Facing challenges with staff efficiency, safety and security, and student access, South Piedmont hired a project manager to facilitate and implement cross campus collaboration on new technologies. Addressing each concern led to an integrated technology solution through the new mobile app. The app resolves the need for staff to speak in English and Spanish by having a chatbot that answers questions in both languages. The app also includes an appointment-setting platform where students no longer have to wait in long lines but can be notified virtually while also eliminating the need for staff to make and track appointments manually. There is also a wayfinding solution which allows students and employees to find directions directly to a classroom or office.

“I believe that we have an excellent chance of winning with either of these projects, but it is a very worthy honor to have been named a finalist,” said Dr. Pharr. “I am so grateful for everyone’s efforts in developing and engaging in these projects.”

As a finalist in both categories, SPCC will compete for the Bellwether Award at the 2022 Community College Futures Assembly (CCFA) scheduled from January 30 to February 1, 2022 in San Antonio, Texas. Each finalist team will have an opportunity to provide a 60-minute presentation to an audience of their peers and an anonymous team of judges selected as subject-matter experts, policy leaders, and respected practitioners in higher education.